Diamond Aircraft is planning to bring the DA50 single to market next year with a 300-hp Continental CD-300 jet-A-burning engine and retractable gear, the company announced yesterday at Aero Friedrichshafen 2019. The DA50 project was introduced at Aero Friedrichshafen in 2017 with three variants offering different seating configurations and engine. During a transition year under new ownership, Diamond re-evaluated all projects, including the DA50.
"After careful consideration, we determined that the CD-300 engine aligns with Diamond’s jet-fuel philosophy and that it is a suitable solution for our DA50 platform," said CEO Frank Zhang. Certified in December 2017, the CD-300 is the third of Continental’s jet-A-burning piston engine family. The engine has a fuel consumption of 9.2 gallons per hour and produces 2,300 rpm.
A CD-300-equipped DA50 underwent initial ground tests on March 15 and flew for the first time on March 22. Diamond anticipates securing EASA approval for the five-seat CD-300 powered DA50 in summer 2020, with deliveries to follow later in the year. Zhang called the DA50 “one of the most important projects” that the company has evaluated.
The new design comes two years after Hangzhou, China-based Wanfeng Aviation took a 100 percent stake in Diamond Aircraft Industries. Since then the company has restructured the Austrian manufacturer and laid out an ambitious agenda that brings new products to market faster, increases support options, doubles production, boosts employment, and steps up research and development of long-term projects, including hybrid-electric.
While working on the DA50, the company also is looking long term at the potential of hybrid electric and, working with Siemens, completed the initial 20-minute flight on October 31 of such a test vehicle—a DA40 configured with two electric engines added on a forward canard producing 150kw of takeoff power. Zhang said the aircraft is not meant for production, but rather to test the possibilities of hybrid-electric propulsion.
Diamond last year restructured its Austria, Canada, and China teams to strengthen their respective local reach, he said. At the same time, it has begun to increase its output. Delivering 140 aircraft last year, the company plans to scale that up to 250 this year and a target of more than 300 next year. Zhang pointed to studies for up a need for up to 750,000 pilots over the next 20 years and expressed the belief of significant potential in the market. To accommodate this growth, the company is hiring with plans to increase global staffing from 950 to 1,200.
Further, Diamond’s Austro Engine is working on a continuous serialized production qualification licensing program for its AE300 series, clearing the way for an output of 100 engines in the remainder of the year. The licensing program has been a part of Austro Engine’s fundamental business plan since Diamond founded the engine maker in 2007, the company said.
On the support side, Diamond is stepping up service partnerships, adding a spare parts warehouse in Austria to boost on-time delivery of factory parts and, in concert with Austro Engine, partnering with Piston Power to offer a Diamond airframe and engine hourly cost maintenance program for new and in-service aircraft. That program covers scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.